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Qatargate: Francesco Giorgi released from jail with electronic tag

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BRUSSELS — Francesco Giorgi, the partner of former Parliament Vice President Eva Kaili and a former assistant at the European Parliament, has been conditionally freed from detention, federal prosecutor spokesperson Eric Van Duyse confirmed to POLITICO.

Giorgi was among the original detainees in the sprawling probe into foreign countries potentially influencing the European Parliament illegally for cash. The pretrial chamber in Brussels confirmed the continued provisional detention of Giorgi, who was arrested at the very start of the Qatargate probe on December 9, but on Thursday allowed him to leave jail with an electronic tag. The Belgian prosecution says it will not appeal his release.

Giorgi remains charged with corruption, money laundering and participating in a criminal organization.

His partner Eva Kaili remains in jail. Just last week, the Belgian investigative judge confirmed extension of her detention for two months.

Last Friday, Kaili’s lawyers filed an appeal for her release, set to be handled this week or next, arguing that Kaili should be able to see her toddler daughter. The child is currently being cared for by her grandfather, Kaili’s lawyer Sven Mary said.

In the past, Giorgi worked as an assistant to former Italian MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri, who last month admitted guilt and struck a plea deal with the investigators, agreeing to share information about whom he bribed in exchange for a reduced sentence. Earlier in February, two further European lawmakers — Belgian Marc Tarabella and Italian Andrea Cozzolino — were arrested. Before being jailed, Giorgi was working as Cozzolino’s assistant.

The fate of the investigative judge in the case, Michel Claise, still hangs in the balance. Tarabella’s lawyer filed a request to remove him from the case, but Claise has refused. The Brussels Court of Appeal is set to deliver a judgment by next week.

Eddy Wax contributed reporting.

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